Friday, May 12, 2017


The War on Drugs hasn't worked, so of course Jeff Sessions intends to escalate it:
Sessions moves to lengthen drug sentences

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reversing one of the central elements of the Obama administration's criminal justice reform agenda: a Justice Department policy that led to prosecutors in drug cases often filing charges in a way that avoided triggering mandatory minimum sentences in federal law.

Sessions is withdrawing a 2013 directive from Attorney General Eric Holder that instructed federal prosecutors not to specify the amount of drugs involved when charging low-level and non-violent drug offenders. That policy effectively gave judges discretion to set sentences lower than the mandatory punishments ranging from five years to life in prison federal law dictates when someone is convicted of a crime involving a certain quantity of illegal drugs....

Sessions' move bucks a growing trend in recent years—in Washington and in states across the country—to abandon some of the harshest sentencing policies created in the 1980s-era war on drugs.
Critics of the attorney general are likely to see this as a war on non-white people. Sessions (and Trump) supporters are likely to see it that way as well. Sessions himself probably sees the policy change that way.

But there's a drug epidemic in many parts of white America right now, so there's a reasonable chance that a lot of whites will get caught in the Sessions dragnet. I'm not sure how many of them will be Trump voters, but they'll be the neighbors of Trump voters.

How will those Trump voters react? This might upset them -- or they might approve. There's anecdotal evidence that Trump's base isn't really white voters who have fallen through the cracks, but more successful members of communities in which others have fallen through the cracks.

Alec MacGillis wrote this in The New York Times in November 2015, a year before Trump's victory:
The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns....

With reliance on government benefits so prevalent, it creates constant moments of friction, on very intimate terms, said Jim Cauley, a Democratic political consultant from Pike County, a former Democratic bastion in eastern Kentucky that has flipped Republican in the past decade. “There are a lot of people on the draw,” he said. Where opposition to the social safety net has long been fed by the specter of undeserving inner-city African-Americans — think of Ronald Reagan’s notorious “welfare queen” — in places like Pike County it’s fueled, more and more, by people’s resentment over rising dependency they see among their own neighbors, even their own families. “It’s Cousin Bobby — ‘he’s on Oxy and he’s on the draw and we’re paying for him,’” Mr. Cauley said. “If you need help, no one begrudges you taking the program — they’re good-hearted people. It’s when you’re able-bodied and making choices not to be able-bodied.” The political upshot is plain, Mr. Cauley added. “It’s not the people on the draw that’s voting against” the Democrats, he said. “It’s everyone else.”
So the new Sessions policies might send a lot of Trump Country whites to prison (while doing nothing to slow the drug epidemic) -- and Trump voters will probably give that a thumbs-up.

On the other hand, the new approach might be applied selectively:
While the new policy does instruct prosecutors to generally pursue the most serious provable charge, it does allow for exceptions based on "good judgment." The policy does not list any criteria for those exceptions....
Melanin level?

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